Who uses it: Tudor Britons
What it means: The night before the feast of the Epiphany (January 6), the official end of the Christmas season.
How you can use it: To ask people to take their Christmas decorations down.
I had always assumed that "Twelfth Night" was the feast of the Epiphany itself, and in some traditions it is, but apparently the Elizabethans marked it as the eve of Epiphany. It's supposed to be bad luck to take down your Christmas decorations after Twelfth Night, unless you leave them up until the following Christmas. That would explain those lights that get left up all year round.
It's also Keith Bea's birthday today, so a very happy day to him, and the beginning of a wonderful year.
For the record, YakTrax are excellent on ice, good on packed snow, and useless in fresh powder. We got between three and four inches yesterday, and I fell down twice. Dizzy doesn't even pay any attention any more. So much for training him as a rescue dog.
What I Read This Week
Terry Pratchett, Thud. I admit it, I'm a geek. (Who's surprised about that?) I love the Discworld novels, which may be the most consistently reliable ongoing series in any genre. You don't have to read them in any order, but it helps to know that Pratchett's Discworld holds not only witches and wizards, but also trolls, dwarfs (never "dwarves"), vampires, and werewolves. In this latest installment, Sam Vimes, Duke of Ankh-Morpork and head of the Watch, races to stop an outbreak of interspecies violence that is brewing on the anniversary of a legendary dwarf-troll battle. Meanwhile, werewolf Sergeant Angua overcomes her prejudices about her new colleague, Lance Constable Sally (a vampire); the troll Constable Detritus saves a young troll addicted to Slab; and Commander Vimes has an unbreakable nightly appointment to read his son the immortal book Where's My Cow? -- which turns out to be more important than you could imagine. Where's My Cow? is also available from HarperCollins, and I might need to buy a copy... for my brother Ed, of course, not for me.
On the subject of HarperCollins, the copy of Thud! I read was a printed book, not the advance readers' edition, and it was a mess. I've never seen a commercially published book with more typographical errors. It was really jarring, and many of the errors were in characters' names -- which is particularly tough in a Terry Pratchett book, because characters' names are often puns. Shame, shame, shame, on that book's proofreader, and on HarperCollins for publishing something that sloppy.
Deborah Crombie, Leave the Grave Green. Linda Brown of The Mystery Bookstore recommended this series to me years ago, and I'm just now getting around to it. Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his sergeant, Gemma James, investigate the drowning death of Connor Swann, the son-in-law of an opera conductor and his wife, a noted soprano. Connor had been estranged from his wife, Julia, but remained oddly close to his in-laws, whose charm captures even the Scotland Yard detectives. This was an excellent psychological mystery, in the tradition of P. D. James and the better work of Elizabeth George. I'll read more.